When we began, Bill Clinton wasn't a household name and Milli Vanilli was. Really.
Thirteen-score and four issues ago, when ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY was first brought forth, the nation was still writhing in the grip of the lambada, Driving Miss Daisy was the No. 1 movie, the best-selling book was Robert Fulghum’s It Was on Fire When I Lay Down on It, and Tower Records had just decided it would quit stocking new 45 rpm records. If that seems like only yesterday, does everybody still recall what rpm stands for? And who has noticed that 1.2 million LPs are selling per year now, and back then sales topped 34 million?
There have been plenty of revolutions per minute since that birth week, when a virtually unknown tousle-headed tot named Macaulay Culkin was filming Home Alone, and Bill Clinton considered not running for reelection as Arkansas governor because ”the fire of an election no longer burns in me.”
Then, 870,000 cellular phones were sold a year. Now, 4.8 million are. Then, 207 million CDs were sold a year. Now, 495 million are. Then, just over a million people were on the Internet, and now, an estimated 20 million are. EW selected k.d. lang from Consort, Alberta (pop. 714), as its first cover subject a good two years before she ascended from cult singer to mass-market goddess, and maybe was a bit too prescient. But in alerting readers to velvety-voiced crooner Tony Bennett’s new album, that first issue was on the money, as was its lead rave review of Please Hammer Don’t Hurt ‘Em, hardly an obvious call when Paula Abdul had the top album, Nirvana was hitting the small-club circuit (in support of their first release), New Kids on the Block were hot stuff, and Billie Joe — the lead singer of Green Day — was just dropping out of high school. Within a week, Rob Pilatus of Milli Vanilli, about to be named Best New Artist, would scuffle with a police officer who thought he was sneaking into the Grammys under false pretenses — which, you will recall, turned out to be true in a different sense.
On TV, The Cosby Show was No. 3 to No. 2 America’s Funniest Home Videos, and No. 1 Roseanne had just hired a hot new story editor named Penelope Spheeris, who would later direct the surprise hit Wayne’s World. EW was almost eerily hip when it noted that the following month Americans would be asking, ”Who killed Laura Palmer?” and that ”Fox may have a new hit in The Simpsons.” But our prediction that America would soon be the destination of choice for entertainers from newly freed Eastern Europe — like the group One Million Bulgarians — didn’t come close.
Of course, that was then (Rush Limbaugh had 3.25 million listeners), and this is now (Limbaugh has 19.5 million listeners). But one note from that February does have a familiar ring: A has-been star, who had recently opened in an $8.5 million movie that would gross $138 million, was said to be making a comeback. The movie was Look Who’s Talking. The star was John Travolta.